I have been pondering quite a bit about these pending Olympic Games. It would be easy to discuss the broken promises of the Beijing organizers on the deadly serious issues of human rights, Tibet, press and media freedoms, the environment and it's government's policy in Darfur. It would be a no-brainer to call out the IOC for it's avarice and greed. It would be the height of simplicity to make the suggestion that politics and the Olympics are as intertwined as movies and popcorn. No, I think that I will avoid the standard Olympic posting, and instead try to locate the lighter side! God knows there are numerous serious issues with the Olympics. I figure that if these Games are going to dominate our collective consciousness for the upcoming fortnight, we may as well try to laugh a bit. And, so I offer a few ridiculous tidbits from the world of Olympic competition.
1. Have you ever noticed the garb that the beach volleyball players wear? The men wear sport shorts and tank tops, while the women are clad in what could generously be described as bikini bottoms and a bra! Why are the women barely dressed while the men get to cover up? Don't feed me some bullshit about ease of movement because it seems to me that the women could move just as easily if dressed like the men. Nope! This is all about ogling and sex and in that case, it seems that we women are being shafted by not be allowed the same access as the men!! Equal access should be the mantra at the beach volleyball courts!!!
2. Does anyone out there actually know the rules for sports like European Handball and Field Hockey? The IOC, in it's collective wisdom, has removed such crowd pleasing sports as men's baseball and women's softball for the 2012 games, but these little-known and virtually invisible sports stay on the menu. When somebody out there can rhyme off the top ten handball players in the world as quickly as they can spout off names like Ichiro, Park, Pujols, Beckett and Morneau (a veritable global cornucopia of baseball players!) I will subscribe to the theory that the IOC was either bribed or sleeping (or both) when they decided to keep these marginal "sports" over the greatest team sport ever!!! (Sorry all of you ice hockey fans!)
3. In it's pre-Olympic press conference yesterday, the Canadian contingent was busy (in typically muted Canadian fashion) trying to "downplay" medal expectations. It is true that most of Canadian sports resources are funneled towards winter sports with an eye toward the 2010 games which we will host in Vancouver. Given the fact that my home country is the only nation to ever host the Games and not win gold with home-field advantage, (we managed this dubious feat twice!!!) it is understandable that we would be gearing up towards '10! That said, we are also the only country that finds excitement with a top 16 finish! Yippee!!! "We're number 16!!!!" Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? So, while the USA and China will be battling it out for world supremacy in the sporting arena, we here in the north hinterland will be placidly cheering our athletes on to those coveted "personal best" times, scores and placings. Way to go, Canada! We couldn't be prouder.
4. Isn't it just so typically Canadian to mess with success? A wonderfully and unique business like Roots, built in Canada by two American guys, grabbed this country's attention with it's award winning Olympic gear for years. At Olympics after Olympics, our athletes were the talk of the village with their hip, cool and trendy garb. The signature red po' boy cap is firmly ensconced in fashion lore. Olympic sweatshirts, caps, jackets and pants flew off of the shelves. Then, a few years back, the deep thinkers at the COC gave the Olympic clothing concession to the Bay, a Canadian company now owned by Americans. The results have been an unmitigated disaster. Have you seen the shit that they are hawking this year? It looks like some animal retched all over the clothes. The fabrics feel cheap and the athletes are in danger of being laughed out of the stadium and off of the podium. (if they are one of the precious few who make it that far!) The good news-the stuff is expensive! Please, I think that I speak for all Canadians when I plead for the return of Roots to the Canadian Olympic scene. Well, at least I can buy American wear. The Yanks know a good thing when they see it and Roots is designing their stuff!
5. When the Equestrian events are concluded, who gets the medals? It seems to me that it should be the horse, but it is actually the rider. When pundits discuss Equestrian events, they talk about the horse-athletes, so what exactly are the riders and why are they rewarded with the medals? I was under the impression that these were the "human" Olympic Games. I don't see the greyhounds racing here or the Westminster Kennel club lobbying for inclusion. Look, I will make a deal with the horses. I won't attempt to run the Kentucky derby if they will stay the hell out of the Olympic Games. And, these idiots have removed baseball from 2012! (I know-but it pisses me off!!)
6. Everyone in the media is simply ga-ga over Dara Torres. If you have been living under a rock for the past month or simply don't read the sports section of the newspaper, (nudge to the husband!) Torres is the 41 year old American swimmer who will be competing in her 5th Olympics. She began her Olympic career back in 1984 (I wasn't married yet and the two progeny were but a pending thought!) and she has amassed nine medals. She is the mother of a two year old and she is owner of the hardest set of abs I have ever seen on any peri-menopausal woman! Check her out on the cover of the August 4th edition of Time. At an age when the body seems to creak and age for most of us, Torres has actually bettered her times in the pool to the point of setting new American records at the trials last month. Oh, I hope she is real! I hope that the only foreign substance in her body is the food! I desperately want to give her the benefit of the doubt and to her credit, she has never once tested positive, but if eating right, exercise and good habits were all it took to look and compete like her, why haven't more athletes done it? In this age of BALCO and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and a whole host of others, it is very easy to be jaded. We here in Canada understand the national shame of a Ben Johnson. Let's hope that Dara Torres is all that she claims to be--a role model for the over-forty crowd who are desperately searching for a fountain of youth outside of the Botox bottle.
7. Let me get this straight-The Olympic Games are supposed to celebrate the best in sport and fitness and two of it's major sponsors are McDonald's and Coca Cola? Together, these two companies have added more inches to the waistlines of the world than any designer I can think of. It seems slightly comical to me that we will be watching all of these fine-tuned athletes, with their perfect bodies born out of their strenuous training regimes, (and in some unfortunate cases, the pharmacies!) brought to us by Coke and Mickey D's!! So grab a Coke and a Big Mac, settle in onto the couch like a lummox for the next two weeks with nothing but a remote to keep you company, and watch other people do what we all should be doing--MOVING!!
8. Finally, these Games will be held in a time zone a half a world away from the viewing audiences of North America, so there will be plenty of us that will be sleep deprived for the next couple of weeks. The majority of events will be held in the middle of the night and the wee hours of the morning, so if you are a true fan, and can't wait for the inevitable tape-delayed packages we know how you will be spending your nights. Just understand that it really is not that important to be the first at the office to know the results of that day's European Handball Game between Croatia and Nigeria! Get a life, get some sleep and read about it on the internet!
Try and enjoy the Games for what they are-a jingoistic, nationalistic and extremely expensive show run by a bunch of people clearly out of touch with the vast majority. The athletes? They do it because they love it! Why else would anyone play European Handball!!